The House of Representatives (HoR) Committee on Aviation headed by Hon. Nnolim Nnaji has summoned the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole to an emergency meeting over the Nigeria Air project.
The Minister of Aviation during ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Hadi Sirika, had orchestrated a rushed launch of the project, with the static display of an Ethiopian Airline (ET) aircraft in Abuja on May 26, three days to the end of his tenure.
The project was announced at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show in the UK, but failed to take flight as scheduled. JournalNG also gathered that the proposed National Carrier is still in the first stage of the five stages needed to complete the process of acquiring the Airline Operators Certificate (AOC), contrary to Sirika’s televised statement that the process was at the concluding stage.
The launch generated a lot of controversy from stakeholders and on social media, as investigation showed that the aircraft used for the static display was rented from ET and only repainted in Nigeria’s colours to deceive the unsuspecting public. The aircraft has since returned and resumed flight operations with ET.
This is also despite a subsisting court order to maintain the status quo on the continued establishment of the proposed national carrier. The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had taken the former Minister, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigeria Air, and Ethiopian Airlines to court to stop the airline from commencing operations.
The House Committee in its invitation for the meeting signed by the committee clerk, Bassy E. Edem dated May 30, 2023 and referenced NASS/9/HR17/120, directed the Permanent Secretary to come with every document and personnel connected with the National Carrier.
Documents demanded in the invitation include the followings: i. Full business case (FBC,) as prepared by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC), ii.Full disclosure on the ownership structure of Nigeria Air including equity contributions by individuals, organisations and Consortium outlining each contributions, names, addresses, phone numbers and their businesses’ registration certificates.
Others are: All Private, Public Partnership, (PPP) agreements reached and signed with Ethiopian Airlines on the project,iv. All Private Public partnership agreements reached and signed with other parties with stakes in Nigeria Air.
“V. All documents, permits and receipts relevant to the subject matter, vi. Shareholders’ agreements; Vii Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC) agreement and Viii. Any other documents that will assist the committee in this assignment.
The invitation partly read: “Last Friday, the 26th of May, 2023, the nation was awash with viral reports and videos of the unveiling of the Nigeria Air project under very controversial circumstances, as committee of the parliament saddled with responsibility of oversight on the aviation sector of the economy we deem it necessary to be fully briefed about the project.
“Consequently l am directed to invite you to an emergency session with the committee on Thursday, first of June 2023. You are to come with all individuals/agencies connected to the project”.
However, the Permanent Secretary is said to have requested time to be able to assemble all the necessary documents and individuals connected with the project.
Meanwhile, Tuesday, June 7, 2023 has been rescheduled for the meeting based on the appeal for time by the ministry.